SailGP’s highly anticipated return to Christchurch marked the 9th stop on Season 4’s record 13-event calendar and saw dolphin disruptions, heightened racecourse drama and record crowds.

Season 4 // Crowds hold Black Foils signs in Christchurch

The event kicked off in dramatic style with the 10-strong F50 fleet struggling amid breezy conditions in Friday’s practice racing.

Season 4 // Close up of Spain and Emirates GBR crash in Christchurch practice racing

Errors by Emirates GBR saw the British crash into Spain, picking up a devastating penalty docking them 8 event points and 4 points from their season standings.

Season 4 // Canada, France, New Zealand and Emirates GBR in Christchurch

After racing on day one was cancelled due to prolonged dolphin activity on the racecourse, racing began in earnest on Sunday, with three fleet races and a winner-takes-all Final.

Season 4 // F50 fleet race in Christchurch

The teams were champing at the bit at the starting gun, leading to a three-boat pile-up in the starting box - ROCKWOOL DEN collided with Canada, which was left with no-where to go and ricocheted off into the United States.

Season 4 // Switzerland close call around the mark in Chirstchurch

Then, on the approach to Mark 1, Australia driver Tom Slingsby was forced to avoid a collision with Canada by steering hard into a race mark, causing serious damage to the Aussies’ F50.

Season 4 // Australia crash into race mark in Christchurch

Peter Burling’s New Zealand had a perfect start to their home event - winning the first race in front of record shoreside crowds, followed by France and Spain.

Season 4 // Close call between Switzerland and New Zealand in Christchurch

It was Phil Robertson’s Canada - victorious in New Zealand in Season 3 - which picked up the win in Fleet Race 2, and France which took the win in the final fleet race of the day.

Season 4 // Close up of France F50 underway in Christchurch

With a consistent 1-4-2 race record, the Kiwis progressed straight into the Final, alongside France and Canada.

Season 4 // France with New Zealand and Canada in Christchurch Final

After nailing the perfect start, New Zealand took the lead early on in the Final and fought off Canada and France’s efforts to overtake. The Kiwis crossed the finish line to secure the event title, delighting home crowds and stealing the season lead from Australia.

Season 4 // New Zealand celebrate Christchurch victory

Next up, SailGP returns to Bermuda for the Apex Group Bermuda Sail Grand Prix on May 4-5 and tickets are on sale now.